2.65m male shark tagged off the coast of Evans Head
2.65m male shark tagged off the coast of Evans Head NSW DPI

SHARK ATTACKS: One year on and still no explanation

IT'S been just over a year since the spate of north coast sharks attacks began with Ballina body-boarder Mathew Lee at Lighthouse Beach, but researchers say more data is still required before any comment can be made on environmental conditions that may have contributed.

When asked whether ocean conditions and shark numbers this year were similar to last year, a spokeswoman for the Minister of Primary Industries said technology trials were currently under way but it was too early to draw any conclusions.

"The technology trials as part of the NSW Government's $16 million Shark Management Strategy will be used to better understand the conditions potentially influencing near shore shark abundance and distribution," she said.

"More data is required before any comment can be made on whether there are environmental differences between last year and this year."

Mr Lee's shark attack on July 2 was the first in a spate, with three major attacks in six months and plenty more encounters and sightings.

On July 31, 52-year-old Craig Ison was mauled by a white shark while surfing with a friend about 100m off Main Beach in Evans Head.

On November 10, Ballina surfer, Sam Morgan, was attacked by a bull shark at Lighthouse Beach off north wall.

At the time of the first attack, the community was still reeling from the death of Japanese national and Ballina resident Tadashi Nakahara who lost his life in a fatal white shark attack off Shelly beach in Ballina on February 9.

It was enough to spur the State Government into setting aside $16 million for a Shark Management Strategy that involves surveillance, detection and deterrent projects, science and research, education and community awareness programs and technology trials.

The Primary Industries spokesperson said a number of these technologies being trialled were successfully working together to detect sharks off the NSW coast.

"For example, four great whites were caught, tagged and released recently using aerial surveillance and SMART drumline technology off Evans Head."

To date, more than 18 white sharks have now been tagged on the north coast since mid-August 2015 and an additional six off Hawks Nest beach at Port Stephens.

This is in addition to the 51 white sharks already tagged by CSIRO and 88 bull sharks tagged off the east coast.

Detection and shark sightings are broadcast automatically via Twitter @NSWSharkSmart and also on the SharkSmart app.